Voters in eight Illinois counties, including Rock Island, Mercer and Henry, will have the opportunity Tuesday to voice their opinions whether the state should adopt a concealed-carry handgun law.
An advisory referendum is on the ballot in those counties, as well as Adams, McDonough, Stephenson, Warren and Winnebago counties.
“Illinois is the only state in the union that denies its citizens the right to carry concealed firearms,” said Valinda Rowe, who lives in White County, and is spokeswoman for the online organization illinoiscarry.com.
Rowe said if the General Assembly is able to craft a bill allowing concealed-carry of handguns, it will take a super majority of lawmakers voting in favor to become law.
“The reason we need a super majority is that Governor (Pat) Quinn has vowed to veto a concealed-carry law,” she said.
In Illinois, to overturn a governor’s veto, three-fifths of the House and three-fifths of the Senate must vote to pass the measure.
“We’re only two votes away from a super majority,” Rowe said.
Illinois Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, and his Republican challenger in Tuesday’s election, Bill Albracht, have both said they would sponsor a right-to-carry bill.
In addition to the background checks already required by law to purchase firearms, Rowe said the law her organization supports would require people wanting the right to carry to take a firearms safety course. It also would be a “shall issue” law, where county sheriffs would issue permits to people who meet the right-to-carry requirements.
Henry County State’s Attorney Terry Patton is on the record as supporting a concealed-carry law. He said the biggest problem with getting it passed in Illinois is misinformation.
“I still talk to people today that don’t know that Illinois does not have a concealed-carry law,” he said. “They’re amazed when I tell them that.”
Colleen Daley of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence said the organization is opposed to a concealed-carry law.
“More guns on the streets will not make us safer,” she said. “We recognized law-abiding gun owners’ rights, we recognize the Second Amendment. We’re not trying to take guns away, we never have.
“But there’s absolutely no reason to have guns on the streets,” she said. “The fact is if you have a gun, you will use a gun. If you don’t have a gun, you won’t use a gun.”